They've been waiting for this moment for more than two weeks. It couldn't have come at a better time for the Cardinals.

Having dropped three straight games to open the 2011 season, Ball State (0-3) will defend its home turf for the first time against Big Ten foe Northwestern today at 3:00 p.m.

Coach Beth Maddox had success in last year's home opener, in which she started her first season coaching at Ball State. Maddox led the Cardinals to a 5-0 victory over Robert Morris.

"It's always more fun to play at home," Maddox said. "It's all about the pride and representing the school in a positive manner."

The Cardinals haven't been in action for 12 days. Instead of giving her team extra rest, Maddox used it to her advantage during practice.

"We have been working on the fundamentals," Maddox said. "It's about doing the simple things well."

Maddox has emphasized the importance of "teamwork" and "playing with pride" to her team.

The Cardinals will need senior captain Devanny Kuhn to have a stellar performance against the Wildcats.

Kuhn has gotten off to a rather slow start for Ball State, recording just one goal. But, she leads the team with 19 shots, 13 of which have been on goal.

On the other hand, the Wildcats have been racking up miles on their speedometer.

After splitting two games against two top 10 teams over the weekend in College Park, Maryland, Northwestern (4-2) packed its bags en route to Muncie.

Junior forward Chelsea Armstrong leads the way for Northwestern. Armstrong has tallied seven goals and 16 points for the Wildcats. She also leads the team in shots with 33.

When asked about Northwestern's style of play, Maddox acknowledged their high abilities.

"Northwestern has many talented individuals," Maddox said. "They will handle the ball well. We know they will bring their A-game."